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Anderson Gardens Celebrates
a New Season and Children’s Day

• In the pleasant air, the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford celebrated the start of a new season and Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi) on May 6. Children’s Day is a Japanese national holiday, which takes place annually on May 5, to honor children’s personalities and celebrate their healthy growth.

• In the celebration, many kinds of activities were offered. The Ho Etsu Taiko performed traditional Japanese taiko drumming, and the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai performed Okinawa’s traditional dance and music, Koto player Yoko Reikano Kimura and cellist Hikaru Tamaki played beautiful duo, and the Tsukasa Taiko’s children group performed taiko drumming.

• At the sukiya style tea house and gazebo next to the West Fall, a bowl of matcha (ceremonial green tea) was served to the visitors by the students of Professor Kimiko Gunji. Japanese traditional games such as otedama and kendama were offered near the guest house. The visitors tried and enjoyed Japanese traditional games with laughter.

• At the West Waterfall deck, children and their parents enjoyed Carp Flag making and kite flying. The carp flag is a symbol of Children’s Day. Families in Japan raise carp flags to wish the children’s health and growth.

• In the Visitor Center, many activities were offered for children such as origami, calligraphy, candy-sushi making, and noh-mask making.
• At the lower level gallery in the center, the presentation “The Way of the Samurai in 1890s Japan” by Sarah Thal, Associate Professor of the University of Wisconsin, Madison; “Ukiyoe: The Language and Culture of Japanese Prints” by James Ketelaar, Professor of the University of Chicago.

• A day before the opening, Professor Kendall Brown of California State University gave a presentation about the Japanese gardens. He said that the topic was how Japanese gardens were useful for Americans to connect themselves to nature in a Japanese manner or Japanese way of approach.
• Brown was a Japanese art historian, but since he found Japanese gardens in North America, he has studied and analyzed them for decades. He said that gardens became in some ways more important than arts because gardens were interactive with people.
• He is going to publish his new book, “Visionary Landscapes: Japanese Garden Design in North America” in September.

• Jeff and Rhonda Eppers and John and Kris Bakic came from Waukesha, Wisconsin. Rhonda and Kris’s parents recommended that they visit the Anderson Gardens. Rhonda said that their mother was especially a fan of gardens, so she took them to see many different gardens. Rhonda also said, “It’s only a one-hour-and-a-half drive. We’ll definitely come back.”
• Jeff Eppers said, “It’s very tranquil. Even with many people here today, there are still places you can go to relax and look nature.”

• The Barrancos from Naperville found the gardens on Facebook, so they came to join the opening ceremony. Stephanie Barranco said that her son Edison loved Japanese culture and taiko drumming, so coming to the garden was good for him.
• Edison said, “I first studied (Japan) I was about three. I’m six and a half now.” “It’s like an outdoor museum, and it’s all about nature. It’s very cool. That’s what I thought today.”
• The family wen to “Taiko Legacy” concert by Tsukasa Taiko at the Contemporary Art Museum Chicago and bought some CDs. Stephanie said that the CDs were always in their car.

• Cora Hays of Brooklyn, Wisconsin, found the Anderson Gardens two years ago then started looking at YouTubes and learned the history of the gardens. She is a school-bus driver, so she brought 50 school students to the garden sometimes ago. “Then I thought that I would come back again. I wanted to bring my family for the celebration day,” Hays said.


• The Anderson Japanese Gardens
• Hours through October 31:
• Mon – Fri: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
• Sat & Sun: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
• Admission Rates:
• Adults $9.50
• Seniors (62+) $8.50
• Students: $7.50
• Children 5 Y.O. & Under Free
• More Information is available at

Scenes from the Anderson Gardens